Jill Charles, Artistic Dir of VT's Dorset Theatre Fest, Dead at 52

News   Jill Charles, Artistic Dir of VT's Dorset Theatre Fest, Dead at 52 One day shy of her 53rd birthday, Jill Charles, artistic director of the Dorset Theatre Festival in Dorset, VT, died of cancer.

One day shy of her 53rd birthday, Jill Charles, artistic director of the Dorset Theatre Festival in Dorset, VT, died of cancer.

According to company spokesperson Ken Kamlet, Ms. Charles (nee Jill Geiger) came to Vermont in 1968 and joined the Caravan Theatre, later revamping it — with producing director John Nassivera — into the Dorset Theatre Festival after the founders had retired in 1976.

Editor's Note: On July 12, Nassivera was named as the company's producing artistic director.

A freelance writer and editor for various theatre-related publications, Ms. Charles acted in several Festival entries (including Tonight at 8:30 and Play It Again, Sam) and directed 48 DTF shows.

Though already ill, Ms. Charles attended the restored and expanded Dorset Playhouse's June 14 reopening and addressed the audience after the evening's performance of Yasmina Reza's Art: "I was in the hospital on the phone going, `What's happening? What's happening?' And then to come here today; it's like the shoemaker coming up the stairs and all the elves have been working all week and it's done and it's beautiful." The Dorset Theatre Festival is planning to hold a memorial for Ms. Charles later this summer.

— By David Lefkowitz